Never has ‘concentrate on the Premier League’ been more apt for Norwich City
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I love cup football. The Milk Cup final victory, those FA Cup runs in 1989 and 1992 and the European adventure are among my real highlights in nearly four decades of supporting the Canaries.
I was genuinely gutted when Redderz blazed over on Tuesday night to seal our fate at Goodison.
Had City have won the shoot-out, we would have potentially been 180 minutes from a return to Wembley.
That never-to-be-forgotten day at the home of football in May is still fresh in our minds and how we’d love to quickly get back there.
Alex Neil showed that he cares about cup football by fielding a pretty decent side on Merseyside.
The players showed they wanted success too by turning in a gutsy performance which had such an agonising conclusion.
Neil also made it pretty clear before the match that it is the bread and butter of the league which really matters rather than the knock-out competitions.
Of course we fans want both – survival in the Premier League and glory in the cups.
I trawled through City’s annual accounts at the weekend and one thing jumped out loud and clear.
The top flight is the only place to be – and with the eye-watering extra money coming from the enhanced TV deal, the gulf between football’s haves and have nots will get wider and wider.
It goes against my instincts as a passionate football fan but yes we do have to concentrate on the league.
There is an argument that success breeds success and cup victories can be the catalyst for improved league form.
However, it is increasingly obvious why bigger clubs put so much less stall in the cups.
City have a massive November coming up.
After a decent opening seven games when Neil’s men chalked up two wins and three draws (and could easily have secured several more points), the harsh reality of life in the top flight has dawned with three straight league defeats in three winnable games.
We have to be honest to say that Swansea is the one realistic chance of a win in the month ahead.
It’s when we get back to playing those others in our ‘mini league’ that points have to be put on the board. Or a very long winter is in store. OTBC
• THE GOING IS TOUGH, SO TOUGH MUST GET GOING
There have been a lot of fond recollections of 1985 among Norwich City fans this year as the Milk Cup triumph has been celebrated. I’m not sure if the stadium announcer takes requests for pre-match songs at Carrow Road.
If he does, I may suggest a certain Billy Ocean number which was first released in that year. Yes, the going certainly has got tough for the Canaries and more than ever it is the time for players and fans alike to prove they are tough and together.
The biggest worries for me on Saturday were the way City had no plan B to break down the Baggies and also the depressingly flat atmosphere.
At the end City should have been throwing the kitchen sink at WBA.
It must have felt like little more than a spatular being hurled in the direction of the visiting defence.
I can’t remember Carra being so quiet as it was late on.
It has to be down to the players to excite the supporters. City lacked the fist pumping, talismanic figures getting the fans going.
When things get tough we have to see that inspiration from the men on the pitch.
And we have to stay positive, realistic and make Carrow Road an intimidating place for teams to come to.
• Holty shows how much he loves us
HERO OF THE WEEK: He was a talisman on the pitch and City fans will love him forever. And Grant Holt proved how much he still cares about the Canaries as he made his debut as a BBC Radio Norfolk pundit for the Everton game. I enjoyed his passionate contributions and hope he’s back on soon.
• Football has to sort out hassling of referees
VILLAIN OF THE WEEK: I like a good moan at the ref as much as the next fan. But I can’t stand seeing players surrounding the man in black and getting right in his face. The West Brom team did that on several occasions and it’s not on. Authorities have to sort this out once and for all.
• Bennett and Bassong could be the answer
HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK: It’s not been a vintage week. The fourth straight defeat and an agonising exit from the League Cup. By all accounts Bassong and Bennett were growing in confidence together at the centre of the defence and that could be a glimmer of hope for the tough time ahead.
• The over-eager Owls fans were such a hoot
FUNNIEST MOMENT OF THE WEEK: Seen those Sheffield Wednesday fans falling over the advertising hoardings as they leaned over to try to grab a shirt being thrown by one of their players last week? It was hilarious and I’ve posted the footage above.
• Could Canaries be a swan song for Jose?
PREDICTION OF THE WEEK: It’s been a dreadful season so far for Chelsea. Five league defeats, out of the League Cup and so many off-the-field problems. They will clearly improve but I think Mourinho will soon be on his way. Will the City game be his last?